The hike to Fourth of July and Washington Lakes in the White Cloud Mountains is one of the easier hikes you'll find. It is only 6 miles round trip. I took my time stopping often for pictures and was back to base camp by mid-afternoon. I started my day leaving my base camp at Stanley Lake around 7:30 AM to drive to the the trailhead 33 miles away. The drive up Fourth of July Creek below the trailhead is rather barren as a fire ravaged this area a few years back. Luckily, there was very little fire damage on the hike route. I have posted several pictures from the trailhead. Much of the signage will have changed since I took these pictures as the White Cloud Mountains have become a "wilderness area".
The elevation at the trailhead is 8760 feet with the pass between Fourth of July Lake and Washington Lake at 9550 feet.
This is the view as you arrive at the trailhead.
There is a fair amount of parking but it was pretty full when I got back to it in the middle of the afternoon.
The trailhead signs and info.
Looking at this map of the area I was wishing I could spend more time here. I guess I will just have to go back.
Here was the check-in sheet. As I said I think this will have changed since it is now a wilderness area.
There is a ramp to unload stock and ATVs.
Of course it is always a good idea to take a little pit-stop before hitting the trail.
And we're off! None of this hike was hard especially the hike to Fourth of July Lake so just enjoy your time.
We cross a little bridge.
Keep going straight.
Fourth of July Creek wanders about the valley and you will cross it more than once but it's small. Portions of this trail are very enjoyable and Fourth of July Lake is quite nice.
Trail 219 forks to the left a short distance from Fourth of July Lake on it's way to Born Lakes. I thought about taking a side trip up over the ridge but was in need of an easy day to rest up for a bigger hike I had planned the next day.
And there it is, Fourth of July Lake.
Cross the outlet stream on some rocks. See that peak on the right side of this picture? There were wolves up there howling, growling and even barking now and then. It was somewhat unnerving for the rest of the hike. They sounded very close after I crossed the pass on up the trail aways, but I always carry bear spray and I bet it would detour wolves too!
Here is a good look at the lake. I had hoped for calm water but the light breeze kept blowing. This is a very picturesque place which seems to invite you to sit for a spell.
One of several campsites available around Fourth of July Lake. If you choose to camp here, you will likely not be alone. I saw several groups arriving or passing through on my hike.
The pass between Fourth of July Lake and Washington Lake. I saw no name for this peak however it is about 10,750 feet in elevation.
Washington Lake.There are some very nice campsites along the bottom end of the lake. I did hike on down and almost to the outlet but there was a camper so I turned and left the way I came.
I enjoyed my hike but it lacked the feel I got while hiking in the Sawtooth Mountains. Maybe the wolves spooked me and made me uncomfortable. That's too bad as the White Cloud Mountains offer many more scenic vistas for one to explore.